Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


School of Language, Literature and Media Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Dr Brian Shoesmith


This thesis examines community radio in Western Australia and its relationship to "the public sphere". The public sphere is that field in which private. persons interact with other private. persons and in so doing construct a 11public". Public opinion is formed through this interaction in the public sphere. The media provide a major part of that interaction. Moreover, the media determine which voices are privileged within the communicative sphere. Drawing from Jurgen Habennas I explore theories of the public sphere arguing that community radio constructs a new form of public sphere in contemporary culture. I explore notions of democratic radio following the theories of Harold Innis to explore how elites have attempted to control communication. I argue that community radio provides a participatory medium which democratises the medium and allows for a more comprehensive formation of public opinion through the creation of informed rational discussion in the public sphere. This thesis provides an overview of broadcasting and the public in Western Australia with background on the history and development of community radio. It examines the notion of the public as a site of struggle and examines how community radio seeks to challenge the status quo in Western Australian culture. as well as seeking to facilitate- ideas on the role of radio as a democratic medium.

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